1855 - 1964

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Important Dates in the History of Grange Court Junction
1835  Brunel suggests Broad Gauge (7ft) to Great Western Railway. 
1845  South Wales Railway (Chepstow to Fishguard) authorised.
1846 Railway Act authorised eastward extension from Chepstow to Grange Court in Broad Gauge. 
1851  June 5th Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway incorporated.September 19th Gloucester and Dean Forest Railway opened line to Grange Court, ending in a junction between the GWR and South Wales Railway.
1852  July 19th South Wales Railway linked via Grange Court and Gloucester, to Chepstow and Swansea by bridging the Wye at Chepstow.
1853 July 11th 5 miles of Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway opened between Grange Court and Hopesbrook. Hereford Line controlled by electric telegraph and crossing order: single line working.
1855 June 1st Line completed to Hereford. Grange Court Junction opened. Eight trains each day on weekdays.
1862  Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway merges with the Great Western.
1868  Hereford to Grange Court line converted from Broad Gauge to Standard Gauge.
1872  May 11th last Broad Gauge train ran in South Wales.
1892  May 21st-22nd Final massive weekend conversion of Great Western to Standard Gauge.

Station Masters at Grange Court

The 1861 Census lists John Townshend (aged 31) living at Station House, with the occupation of "policeman on Great Western Railway". 

The 1871 Census records Joseph Williams as stationmaster, living with his wife Cecilia and children Robert and Anna. 

By the time the Census was made in 1881, Thomas Pearson was stationmaster, living wth his wife Sarah.
In 1891 the Census shows Thomas Bailey as stationmaster, living with Mary his wife and sons Archibald and Hugh.

In Sequence, as known:
Until 1896 T. Bailey
Until 1899 W. Roberts
Until 1900 W. Vaughan
Until 1915 Mr Fay
Until 1932 Mr Kirk
Until 1945 Mr Fletcher
Until 1950 Mr Freeman
Until 1957 Mr Lewis
Until 1961 Mr Howell
Until closure in 1964 Frank Curtis

Most staff employed at the station, including platelayers, signalmen, "servants" etc seem to have lived in the immediate area, sometimes as lodgers, in Northwood Green, Adsett and surrounding areas.

First: Pointsmen using hand signals.
Circa 1853: Telegraph
Circa 1862: Transom type of fixed signal, worked from signal box.
Circa 1890: Quadrant type of semaphore signal introduced.
Separate East and West signalboxes existed from the early days. The single, central box was introduced on April 15th 1935.

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When I was late, the signal's warning clang
Would catch me running down the bumpy field,
Dodging the cow-flops and the tussocked grass
To sprint along the line and cross the bridge
Before the local train pulled out to join
The long straight miles of track that led to school.
At night, the 'push and pull' sat in the bay,
Until the down express had cleared its path,
Then clattered off to drop me in the dusk,
And chunter off along the Forest branch.
There was so much to see and wonder at
At Grange Court Junction in those far-off days.
The engines proud in green and polished gold:
'Castles' and 'Stars', 'Manor' and 'Hall' and 'Grange';
Slow, endless freights side-tracked and blowing steam;
The satisfying clunk of shifting points,
As bell-codes sounded from the signal box
And polished levers swung in gleaming grooves;
While porters brewed strong tea at platform ends
And in the ticket office fires burnt bright.

It all seemed very solid, sure and safe,
That old Great Western Railway way of life;
Not even nationalisation's arms could reach
To threaten Gloucestershire or change our ways.
But blaring tin-box diesels came, and then at last
The Beeching axe swung on our rural lines:
Oakle Street, Blaisdon Halt and Bullo Pill,
Uneconomical and doomed to die;
Until the branch line and my junction fell:
Last sacrifices of the age of steam.
And now the faceless trains still thunder through
On canted rails all re-aligned for speed.
But signal box and loading dock are gone;
No lower-quadrant signals clatter down,
But distant soundless colour-lights shine out
Along the miles of cost-effective track.
Now only memory flags the locos off,
Or whistles down the years the passing trains.

Chris Price 
(Chris Price lived as a boy at Grange Court and travelled daily to school in Gloucester from the station)

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Two ghostly tales have been associated with the area of the station, submitted by a driver with Arriva Trains.

Sometime in the late 1950s a freight train was routed into the freight loop at Grange Court, the signaller forgetting to reset the points. He then set the signals to give a through run for the following passenger train, which upon crossing the points was sent into the rear of the freight train, demolishing the rear of the train and killing the unsuspecting guard in the process.

A few years ago an Arriva driver passing through the area at night turned in his cab to find a ghostly image sat in the secondman's seat of his train. He was shaken enough to stop his train and call and tell the story to his very sceptical guard. This wasnt the first time it has happened and it had been reported before in British Rail days by various drivers, to the obvious derision of their colleagues. Is this tale a case of too many strong cheese sandwiches on a driver's rest break, or is there the slightest bit of truth in the tale?

The second tale concerns the level crossing at Broken Cross just beyond Grange Court, and the tale goes even further back in the mists of time to the reign of good King Henry and the dissolution of the monasteries. Apparently after the break from Rome, Henry gave orders that all monasteries should be stripped of money and valuables. Eventually they appeared in your locality heading for the local monastery. A monk, hearing of the soldiers' approach, collected all the valuables together and fled. The soldiers caught up with the monk, killed him and left the body in a field. The local villagers, finding the monk's body, buried him and erected a cross to mark his grave. All remained quiet for over 300 years until Mr Brunel plotted the course of the Great Western broad gauge main line down from Gloucester and straight through the monk's grave. Not being big on conservationism at the time, the navvies ripped up the cross and laid the line over the poor monk's grave. This has led to the area allegedly being haunted by a ghostly monk.

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My name is John Prytherch and I lived with my parents in Blaisdon from early 1969 until early 1975, my parents remaining there until 1977 when they moved to Peterstow. Very sadly, I never travelled the Grange Court to Hereford line, as we lived in Cheshire from 1959 until 1966, and the then terrifying rigours of a new boy's first term at Cheltenham College, in Autumn 1964, allowed no time for a visit until the closure had taken place. And of course, it was and still is a shock to me that it did close. From 1957 to 1959 we lived in Monmouth and my mother ensured that my brother and I travelled both the Ross and Chepstow lines during 1958. The Grange Court and Hereford line was, of course, the main line at Ross, and to a child it certainly looked it, with its much bigger trains than those found on the branch.

When we moved to Blaisdon, Grange Court was of course our nearest point on the railway, and my nearest signalbox. I had just the one month of my final school holiday - April 1969 - to enjoy it. By July, Gloucester panel had taken over.

So I only knew Grange Court after the branch line, and virtually all the station buildings, had gone. But even then it was impressive, mainly because the profusion of distant signals for the local level crossings (Westbury, Broken Cross and Ley) still gave the place an air of importance. Fortunately the signalmen were friendly. I think I remember Mr Callaghan in particular, I am fairly sure he is the signalman in the picture on this website. 

Although I made only a few unofficial visits to the box in just one month, I loved it and I have to say that it was and will always be my favourite box. Even with the branch line gone, it was still busy, with two goods loops, and a distant, outer home, intermediate home, inner home, starter, advanced starter and intermediate block signal in each direction! And I liked the arrangement of the frame at the back. Of course, by that time, it was not perfectly kept as it had once been, all the levers which had been to do with the branch and its connections were white spares, with one of them (41, the former FPL for the down main to branch facing points) bolted reverse and so sticking out like a sore thumb all the time. And of course I also remember the crossing ground frames, Broken Cross was delightful, and I also remember Mrs. Ingram at Westbury Crossing.

After the MAS came, it was all very different. The box had disappeared by the end of the summer of 1969, just a ground frame for the emergency crossovers. Nearly everything of character gone! The old ground frame at Broken Cross was replaced by a single gate bolt lever and miniature red-green warning lights, although that at Westbury was refurbished and painted light green, its gate bolt lever retained and slot switches and repeaters provide for the protecting running signals (G 111 and DM 122). Now of course, all that is gone, and the lovely big gates, and Mrs Ingram's cottage, I think there are just half barriers and DM 122 is now G 110. Since I left the area, the Up Goods Loop has been extended through the station (on the alignment of the Down Branch!) and G211 and points 771 repositioned.

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A very short colour film sequence of a Hereford-bound train arriving at Grange Court can be seen on the Video "Steam By-Ways - Railways off the Beaten Track" produced by Transport Video Publishing, of 19 High Street, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, AL4 8BB. Telephone 0158 283 3807. The sequence is part of a filmed journey along the branch line through Ross on Wye and Longhope.

Longer train movements at the station, filmed in colour in 1964, are to be found on the video "Herefordshire Byways" (Number 12 in the Jim Clemens collection) available from B & R Video Productions, The Old Smithy, Uffington, Nr Shrewsbury, SY4 4SN. 01743 709680. 

Website designed by Joanne Foy with thanks to Gloucester Library and various individuals supplying photographs, particularly Graham Turner and Gerald Draper. Photograph commentaries by Gerald Draper and Jonathan Mckechnie-Jarvis. 

The homepage colour photograph shows the Sir Nigel Gresley passing the site of the station in 1992.
Every effort has been made to obtain permission to include photographs from those holding copyright. Please inform us of any accidental infringements.

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